Revelation 8:1-6

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 18, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Reminder about Christmas Service schedule.  Talk about New Year’s Eve and Morning Schedule

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven where he found himself before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals.  As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

We have seen Jesus break six of the seven seals, and then a few things happened between the sixth and seventh seals.  We saw the special group of 144,000 Jewish Evangelists receive their calling and protection during the time of the Tribulation.  Then we saw the huge number of people who had come to faith in Christ, but had died martyr’s deaths during the Tribulation.

8:1-6 The Preparation

:1 When He opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

:1 seventh seal

Jesus finally opens the seventh seal.

There are going to be three groups of sevens which make up the Tribulation. There are seven seals, seven trumpets, and later we’ll see seven bowls.

Though some think the seven seals are identical to the seven trumpets and bowls, and others see seals, trumpets, and bowls happening one after the other, I think it’s best to see the seventh seal as containing the seven trumpets, and the seventh trumpet containing the seven bowls.

There is a question as to how these three groups of seven fit together. There are several theories –


One idea is that each group is just a reiteration of the other groups, that they overlap each other. In other words, the first seal is the same as the first trumpet, which is the same as the first bowl. Then the second seal is the same as the second trumpets, etc. The problem with this view is that even though the seals, trumpets, and bowls have some similarities, they are not identical copies.


A second idea is that these things are consecutive. First comes the seals, then when the seals are complete, the trumpets come, and when the trumpets are complete then the bowls come.


A third idea is similar to the second but a little different. The idea is that they are not just consecutive, but the final item in each group actually contains the entire next group.
It’s kind of like the Russian Matryoshka dolls.
There’s a big hollow wooden doll that opens up.  Inside is another doll, and inside that doll is another, and another, and another.
The idea here is that when you get to the seventh seal, it doesn’t just lead to the first trumpet, it contains all the trumpets. When you get to the seventh trumpet, it includes all the bowls. In this view, the seven-sealed scroll contains all the events of the Tribulation.

:1 silencesige – from sizo (to hiss, or hush) silence.  Shhhhh….

(Ac 21:40 NKJV) —40 So when he had given him permission, Paul stood on the stairs and motioned with his hand to the people. And when there was a great silence, he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, saying,

:1 half an hourhemiorion (“half” + “hour”) – half an hour

What’s this “silence” for?

It might speak of awe and respect before the Lord at what is about to happen:
(Zep 1:7 NKJV) Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; For the day of the Lord is at hand, For the Lord has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.

Difficult things are about to come.  Silence would be appropriate.

Or, perhaps it was something like …

Pastor Dave Charlton tells us, “After a worship service at First Baptist Church in Newcastle, Kentucky, a mother with a fidgety seven-year-old boy told me how she finally got her son to sit still and be quiet. About halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered, ‘If you don’t be quiet, Pastor Charlton is going to lose his place and will have to start his sermon all over again!’ It worked.”

:2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

:2 the seven angels

Could these be the same as the “seven spirits”?

(Re 1:4 NKJV) —4 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne,
(Re 4:5 NKJV) —5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
(Re 5:6 NKJV) —6 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

There are some ancient traditions that there were seven archangels.

In Enoch 20:1-7 (an ancient book, but not one in the Bible) the names of seven archangels are given (Uriel, Raphael, Raguel, Michael, Sariel, Gabriel, Remiel)
Sounds a little too much like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
1,2 And these are the names of the holy angels who watch. Uriel, one of the holy angels, who is 3 over the world and over Tartarus. Raphael, one of the holy angels, who is over the spirits of men. 4,5 Raguel, one of the holy angels who takes vengeance on the world of the luminaries. Michael, one 6 of the holy angels, to wit, he that is set over the best part of mankind and over chaos. Saraqael, 7 one of the holy angels, who is set over the spirits, who sin in the spirit. Gabriel, one of the holy 8 angels, who is over Paradise and the serpents and the Cherubim. Remiel, one of the holy angels, whom God set over those who rise.

Perhaps these are just the seven angels whose job it is to blow these trumpets.

:2 trumpetssalpigx – a trumpet

The word used here could describe either metal trumpets or the kind made from a ram’s horn.

There are several words in Greek that describe different kinds of trumpets.  There is a straight metal tube that ends with a megaphone like end.  There is a curved metal horn like a French Horn.  There is a horn made from the horn of an animal, like the Jewish Shofar.

The problem is that this particular Greek word is used in the Septuagine (LXX) for both metal and animal types of horns.

These trumpets may be like those blown at a British castle. (Num. 10:2)
They may be curved animal horns like a shofar. (Jos. 6:4)

There is a lot of instruction about trumpets in Numbers.

The Israelites were to make silver trumpets that were blown on the first of each month (New Moon), and for various army applications (Numbers 10)
There was also a “Feast of Trumpets” on the first day of the seventh month (Numbers 29) which used the shofar, the ram’s horn.

Trumpets are used in the Bible in various ways.

Sometime people get the trumpets confused because they think that all trumpets are the same.

Trumpets in the Bible were used for several reasons:

They were used in worship, to praise the Lord (Num. 10:10; Ps.150:3)
They were used to gather the people together to recruit an army (Num. 10:3; Judg. 6:34)
They were used to direct the army by telling the troops when to advance and when to retreat (Num. 10:5; Judg.7:18; 2Sam.2:28)
They were used to warn of an impending attack (Num. 10:9; Ez.33:3)
One ancient practice was to build towers through the land and put men in the towers to watch for enemy armies.  They blew trumpets to warn the people of an impending attack (Eze. 33).
Ezekiel was told by God that he was to be like a watchman in a tower whose job was to watch for enemy armies coming.  His warning the people about their rebellious ways was like the watchman blowing a trumpet. (Eze. 33)

(Eze 33:2–5 NKJV) —2 “Son of man, speak to the children of your people, and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from their territory and make him their watchman, 3 when he sees the sword coming upon the land, if he blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then whoever hears the sound of the trumpet and does not take warning, if the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be on his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet, but did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But he who takes warning will save his life.

God has told Ezekiel that he is like that watchman – blowing the trumpet and warning the people of what was up ahead.

The nation of Judah was about to fall at the hands of Babylon.

God then goes on to say:

(Eze 33:11 NKJV) —11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’

God’s purpose in using Ezekiel to warn the nation was to encourage them to turn from their wicked ways.

The Israelite army was to even warn an enemy city that they were going to attack by blowing trumpets.

(Nu 10:9 NKJV) “When you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.

I kind of think this is what’s going on in Revelation.  God is giving the signal to the world that He is attacking.


Consider yourself warned

God’s way of doing things is to warn people ahead of time.
(Am 3:7 NKJV) Surely the Lord God does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

You now have heard the prophets, and you have been warned.

We might think that certain things caught us by surprise, but I find that this is rarely the case.
Every person here today ought to take Amos’ warning seriously:
(Am 4:12 NKJV) …Prepare to meet your God…

Are you ready?  Have you put your life into Jesus’ hands?

:2 seven trumpets

The next set of judgments will come with the blowing of seven trumpets.


There are some parallels between the book of Revelation and the book of Joshua.
“Joshua” is the older Hebrew form of the Greek name of “Jesus”.
 “Joshua” leads the armies of Israel to reclaim the land that their ancestor Abraham had been promised.
As they enter the land, they will be used to bring God’s judgment against unbelieving, wicked people.
God’s plan for taking the city of Jericho is interesting.
They were to march around the city for seven days.
There were seven priests (instead of angels) with seven trumpets of ram’s horns.

(Jos 6:4a NKJV) And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark.

Every day as they marched around the city, they blew the trumpets.

But the people were to be silent:

(Jos 6:10 NKJV) Now Joshua had commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout or make any noise with your voice, nor shall a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I say to you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout.”

There was a type of “silence” before the battle.

On the seventh day, they were to march around seven times (seven within seven, like seven trumpets within the seventh seal).

Only after the last time, did the people break their silence and shout, and the walls came down.

:3 Then another angel, having a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.

:3 another angel

Not one of the seven angels.

:3 altarthusiasterion – altar; the altar for burnt offerings; the alter of incense

We are told later in the sentence that this is the “golden altar”, meaning the altar of incense.

:3 censerlibanotos (from Hebrew levonah, “frankincense”) – the gum exuding from a frankincense tree; a censer

A censer is a vessel used to burn incense.  Yet the Greek word for censer comes from the incense itself, which was usually a made with “frankincense

Frankincense is made from tapping the resin from a frankincense or boswellia  tree.  These trees are found in desert places like Yemen.  The trees don’t start producing resin until they are 8-10 years old.  The resin hardens, then is ground into powder and used to make perfumes or incense.  Frankincense has been a rare and traded commodity on the Arabian Peninsula for 5,000 years.

This was one of the gifts what the wise men gave to the baby Jesus:

(Mt 2:11 NKJV) …And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

:3 incensethumiama – an aromatic substance burnt, incense

It’s interesting to see the parallel between the Greek and English words here.

One of the Greek words for “anger” is thumos, it is the idea of passion, anger, or “heat” (burning).  This is the root for “incense”, something that is burning.
One of our English words for being angry is “incensed”
Be careful of thinking that your “anger” is anything like incense.  The Bible tells us about the nature of our anger (Gr:  orge, a lesser anger than thumos)
(Jas 1:19–20 NKJV) —19 So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; 20 for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

Your “anger” doesn’t smell good to God at all.

Perhaps the only thing God wants you to be “burning” with is prayer, to be passionate in prayer.
God doesn’t want you “incensed”, He wants your “incense”.


Fragrant prayer

Incense is symbolic of prayer.  The smoke rises up, our prayers rise before God.
There was actually a special formula for the making of the Old Testament incense.
(Ex 30:34–35 NKJV) —34 And the Lord said to Moses: “Take sweet spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, and pure frankincense with these sweet spices; there shall be equal amounts of each. 35 You shall make of these an incense, a compound according to the art of the perfumer, salted, pure, and holy.
Alfred Edersheim tells us more about Jewish practice:
The incense burned upon this altar was prepared of the four ingredients mentioned in Ex. 30:34, with which, according to the Rabbis, seven others were mixed, besides a small quantity of ‘Ambra’ (amber from Jordan) and of a herb which gave out a dense smoke. To these thirteen substances salt was of course added. The mode of preparing the incense had been preserved in the family of Abtinas. The greatest care was taken to have the incense thoroughly bruised and mixed. Altogether 368 pounds were made for the year’s consumption, about half a pound being used every morning and evening in the service.
When you put the right ingredients together in the right way, the incense smelled wonderful. (I’ve got some frankincense from Israel here…)
God chose “incense” to represent prayer, not old cheese or burnt toast.

When we pray well, prayer smells sweet, not stinky.

When we pray poorly, our prayers are a little stinky.

(Pr 28:9 NKJV) One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.

A person who isn’t walking with God has “stinky” prayers.

When our prayers have the “right” ingredients, it is a wonderful thing that comes before God.

(Pr 15:8 NKJV) The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, But the prayer of the upright is His delight.

What’s the right “formula” for prayer?
I think that’s partly what Jesus was teaching us when His disciples asked Him how to pray.  Let’s read it together …
(Mt 6:9–13 NKJV) —9 Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

These aren’t words to memorize, but a pattern to follow.

The most important thing is to have the “right heart”.

God wants us to learn and copy the heart of this prayer.

:3 should offerdidomi – to give

:3 prayersproseuche – prayer addressed to God

:3 all the saints

Not just some of the saints

:3 upon the golden altar

We’ve seen over and over again how the Tabernacle that Moses built in the wilderness was a model of heaven.

God was using Moses to teach the Israelites what heaven was like and how He, God, was to be approached.

The Tabernacle had a little golden altar that stood just outside the veil in front of the Ark of the Covenant, and so does heaven.

The Jewish priests were to burn incense twice a day, every day on the golden altar. (Ex. 30:7-9)
(Ex 30:7–9 NKJV) —7 “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations. 9 You shall not offer strange incense on it, or a burnt offering, or a grain offering; nor shall you pour a drink offering on it.

What are these prayers that are being offered in heaven at this time?

I wonder if it isn’t that part of the prayer that Jesus taught us:
(Mt 6:10 NKJV) Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.

From all the saints throughout all the ages.  We have been praying for God’s kingdom to come.  We have been praying for God’s will to be done on earth just like it is being done in heaven.

Has that prayer been answered yet? Not yet.  But one day it will be.

:4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, ascended before God from the angel’s hand.

:4 smokekapnos – smoke

:4 ascended before God


God loves your prayers

It was not just the prayers of the “best” saints, but the prayers of “all” the saints.
He loves our prayers.
Some of us feel like we’re just beginners when it comes to praying, but I have to tell you, God doesn’t mind hearing from “beginners”.
Play Hysterical Nativity video
Now I imagine that there are some who might look at this video and be angry that this child wasn’t taught to sing properly.  They might be upset that she confused the other kids singing.
But I have to tell you – this little girl isn’t singing loudly because she wants the attention – she’s too young for that.  She’s just doing her best.
And for most of you parents, you thought it was pretty cute.
God feels the same way about our prayers, even when we’re just “beginners”.
The Psalmist wrote,
(Ps 116:1–2 NKJV) —1 I love the Lord, because He has heard My voice and my supplications. 2 Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.
God invites us,
(Je 33:3 NKJV) ‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

:5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and threw it to the earth. And there were noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake.

:5 filledgemizo – to fill, fill full

:5 fire from the altar

The angel takes a live coal from the altar of incense, and puts it in his censer, then casts it to the earth.

Ezekiel wrote during the time of judgment on the nation of Judah and he had a vision about the destruction of the city of Jerusalem because of their wicked ways.

(Eze 10:2 NKJV) Then He spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, “Go in among the wheels, under the cherub, fill your hands with coals of fire from among the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.”
The coals brought the judgment by the Babylonians.

There are some parallels in Scripture:

When Isaiah had his vision of the Lord:
(Is 6:6–7 NKJV) —6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. 7 And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged.”
The coals brought cleansing to Isaiah.

:5 noisesphone – a sound, a tone; a voice; speech

:5 thunderingsbronte – thunder

:5 lightningsastrape – lightning

:5 earthquakeseismos – a shaking, a commotion; a tempest; an earthquake

:5 there were noises, thundering …

In heaven, coals are taken from the altar and flung to earth.

On earth, the coals produce noises, thunderings, lightnings, and an earthquake

:6 So the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared themselves to sound.

:6 preparedhetoimazo – to make ready, prepare; to make the necessary preparations, get everything ready

:6 to soundsalpizo – to sound a trumpet

:6 prepared themselves

They’re getting ready to blow their trumpets.  This passage is about preparation.


Getting ready

It’s not always possible to take time to do this in every situation, but this passage has an interesting pattern being set in heaven before doing something important.
Too often we like to fill our little worlds with as much noise as possible.
There will be plenty of noise when these trumpets start sounding.

But before these trumpets sound, there is silence.

I wonder if we wouldn’t sometimes hear God a little more clearly if we learned to build a little silence into our lives.
At a critical time in his life, Elijah was running scared, afraid that he was going to die for doing what God had said.  He ran, and ran, and ran until he came to a cave on Mount Sinai.

(1 Ki 19:11–12 NKJV) —11 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

It was then that God began to speak, not with the wind, earthquake, or fire, but when things got quiet.  Quiet is ok.  Quiet is good.

God began to challenge Elijah in his running away.

God began to lay out for Elijah a path for him.

Are you getting ready for something big?  Preparation requires prayer.
Were you watching TV on March 21, 2003 and saw this?

PlayShock and Awe” clip.

We learned a new term, “Shock and Awe” as the U.S. Military sent in stealth bombers and cruise missiles ahead of the troops to prepare for the battle.

That’s what prayer does.  It sends in spiritual cruise missiles before you ever get there.

James wrote,

(Jas 5:16 NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.